Neuralink is looking into spinal cord implants as a potential method of giving paralysed people some degree of mobility. There has not been a successful attempt at implanting a computer into a human brain by Neuralink Corp. The company, in true Elon Musk fashion, is broadening its scope to encompass additional areas where devices can be implanted in people.
On Wednesday evening at the Fremont, California, headquarters, Musk gave a statement regarding the company’s progress on two big projects. The brain-computer interface was one such plan, and it involved making holes in people’s heads so that computers could provide healing signals to the brain after an accident. It also includes a vision-enhancing implant.
Musk responded, “As magical as that may sound, we are sure that it is doable,” when asked about the potential of restoring full physical functionality to someone with a severed spinal cord. He defended Neuralink’s vision study by saying, “We are positive they could see,” even though the subjects had no prior visual experience.
Both the robot that removes a piece of a patient’s skull and implants the wiring and Neuralink’s core brain product, a tiny gadget covered in electrodes, are undergoing development and refinement at the same time. After positive discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration, Musk said the business was aiming to begin human testing within six months.
The Neuralink system is capable of translating electrical brain signals into digital format. Musk thinks the technology, if it works, might lead to easier communication between humans and machines. He advocated the idea that humans required computer-like upgrades to compete with AI long before it became mainstream. Initially, the brain-computer interface (BCI) allowed people with devastating conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or stroke to communicate by thinking. An animal that seemed to be a monkey “telepathically typing” on a computer was demonstrated by the company.
Musk elaborated, saying, “You are so used to being a de facto cyborg.” When you rely solely on your phone, though, you may run into problems.
Research papers written by Musk and his colleagues were presented at this Neuralink meeting, as they had been at prior ones. Doubters have asserted for a long time that Musk is exaggerating the benefits of Neuralink and its promise for the future.
For decades, scientists have been trying to perfect brain-machine interface tools. Musk’s involvement has boosted confidence among investors and business owners.
Neuralink is behind in human testing compared to two rival companies. In both Australia and the USA, patients have implanted miniature stent-like devices made by Synchron Inc. into their brains. Thanks to this technology, patients who were previously bedridden and unable to talk can now convey their thoughts and feelings to the outside world via a computer. In addition, Onward, Inc., provided assistance to those who were paralysed.
The brain surgery that Neuralink offers is more invasive than what is offered by Synchron and other service providers. Wires are inserted in the brain after a portion of the skull is removed. Neuralink has conducted extensive experiments in monkeys to ensure the procedure is safe and that the implant may remain in the brain for extended periods of time without causing any harm.
They showed no outward symptoms of the implant’s potential side effects and appeared to be in good condition. Primates at Neuralink’s partner laboratory have been the target of protests from animal rights activists. Neuralink’s animal husbandry programme has been managed in-house for some time now as part of the company’s commitment to setting a good example. Over the course of the past two years, this reporter has visited the apes numerous times.
The speed at which Neuralink processes information is one of its main selling points. Musk thinks that more advanced computing and more invasive surgical techniques will put Neuralink’s technology ahead of the pack and allow for the restoration of greater human capability.
In the same discussion, Musk voiced his concern that future AI developments will make Neuralink’s work irrelevant. The timelines for Musk’s BCI implants have been regularly missed. During discussions held over the course of the last three months, Musk has been extremely blunt in his demands for expediency and increased effort from his team of engineers. Musk said this to his team during a recent product review meeting: “We will all be dead before something worthwhile happens.” The two of us need to step up our game. Put out something that people will appreciate.
Neuralink’s goal is for the BCI implant robot to be able to carry out procedures quickly and without risk. Musk believes that the brain implants he envisions might be installed in a single day.
Musk has been pushing his team to find a cure for paralysis and eye impairment as quickly as possible.
In order to keep the primates occupied during implant checkups, Neuralink provides a Fremont inclosure with a variety of amusement options. For the safety of the trial’s monkeys and pigs, Autumn Sorrells, Neuralink’s director of animal care, has been using cutting-edge methods of training.
The Austin, Texas, campus is expanding its animal inclosure. These months have seen a rise in the release and restraining of animals as they recharge their implanted devices outside of their enclosures. Neuralink, however, has recently devised a more relaxed approach where primate recharge can be achieved while the animals are contentedly resting in their cages, wearing their helmets, and chowing down on some food.
Neuralink is an obsession for them, and they desire everything associated with it. Only Neuralink’s BCI technology can be applied to every situation, and the firm is just getting started. Also, companies are emerging that specialise in various aspects of the human nervous system, including the brain, eyes, and spinal cord.